English Charm. S.S. Daley SS23

S.S.Daley, founded by London-based designer Steven Stokey-Daley, won the prestigious LVMH prize this June. His graduate collection was picked up by the stylist Harry Lambert, and later featured in Harry Styles’ music video “Golden”. And once you are worn by Styles, you become loved by the entire fashion industry. But there are many more reasons to love Stokey-Daley’s work. The designer uses donated, deadstock and end of roll fabrics, while exploring themes of British aristocracy and class in regard to uniform and attire. S.S. Daley is a modern brand redeveloping ideas of British heritage – exactly what London fashion needs right now.

For spring-summer 2023, all kinds of wearable new treats were scattered through the collection in the form of ticking-stripes and balloon-sleeve blouses with botanical prints, sweaters with Wedgwood plate blue-and white embroidery, zip-up cardigans with a pair of rabbits on the front. There was a lot of bunny action, too. The collection’s context was based around a dramatized reading of the love letters between Vita Sackville West and Violet Trefusis. Daley explained that he had come across a sketch from one of Violet’s letters. “It was about a time in the south of France together, when Violet dressed like a man, in a full length morning coat, and they could pass as a couple. A time when they could enjoy love freely.” The women also coined a codeword for writing about their love – it was ‘rabbit.’ The clandestine relationship became increasingly sad, though. “They were trapped, society dragged them apart, and they couldn’t be together.” Daley’s interest, right from college, has always been about looking at the behaviors and dress codes of the British upper classes, chiefly of the 1920 and ’30s, from the point of view of a working class designer. “In my first collections, I was looking through a homosocial gaze at public boys schools. With this, I was doing the same, but with a relationship between two women. It’s quite nice to explore that from a different viewpoint.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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